Notes From The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame
Billboard.com goes behind the scenes at the 21st annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction dinner, held last night (March 13) at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York. Black Sabbath, the Sex PistolsBillboard.com goes behind the scenes at the 21st annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction dinner, held last night (March 13) at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York. Black Sabbath, the Sex Pistols, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Blondie, Miles Davis and record moguls Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss were inducted into the hall. Highlights from the event will be broadcast March 21 on VH1.
Although Black Sabbath did not perform (Ozzy Osbourne's reasons: "My balls were hurting me" and "If we'd played, everybody would have been f*cking dead at the end of it"), its members generated a number of humorous moments in the press room. Osbourne repeatedly strained to hear the questions, to the point where his colleagues were repeating them back to him while he cracked up with laughter.
Ozzy on his opinion about why the Sex Pistols didn't show up: "The Sex Pistols ain't nothing to do with me. What I think about that doesn't mean anything. They had a choice, you know?"
Ozzy on the state of current hard rock: "Metal is alive and kicking as much as it was ever." On what it was about Black Sabbath's music that seemed to scare off the mainstream media: "I've been asking myself the same forever. Because the press and the media put us down, the fans got really united."
Asked what, if anything, will be next from Sabbath, who have toured with Ozzfest in recent years but haven't released a new studio album with its original lineup since 1978, guitarist Tony Iommi reported, "We don't know yet."
Metallica rarely fails to rock, but the band sounded more alive than it has in years when performing the Sabbath songs "Hole in the Sky" and "Iron Man" last night. "It was an honor and a dream come true to play those songs in front of those guys," drummer Lars Ulrich said. "Somebody said either 'Paranoid' or 'Iron Man,' so that was easy, no disrespect to 'Paranoid.' 'Hole in the Sky' felt like it summed up everything Black Sabbath was about in five minutes."
As previously reported, the group is gearing up for a run of South African shows this month and summer European festivals, in between working on a new studio album. "We've been working on the new record for the last three months," Ulrich said. "It's been the best experience we've had writing in as long as we can remember. We've been on such a great roll [that there are] no therapists needed," he added, alluding to the "coach" who was brought in to help band members make it through the recording of 2003's "St. Anger."
As they were leaving the stage, members were asked who they'd like to induct Metallica when the group is inducted into the Rock Hall down the road. "[Sabbath drummer] Bill Ward said they would play if we get inducted," guitarist James Hetfield said, before Ulrich interjected, "Dave Mustaine," the Megadeth frontman who was famously booted from the pre-fame Metallica in the early 1980s.
Blondie endured a bizarre acceptance speech, which found former members Frank Infante and Nigel Harrison reigniting an old feud and complaining about not being allowed to play live last night. "The reason I brought this is in case I run into any of those f*ckers," guitarist Chris Stein said backstage while brandishing his Rock Hall trophy.
"Our bass player Lee Fox has been working for us for more than 20 years," he added. "Nigel worked with us for maybe four. It's so obscure."
Stein was pragmatic about the impending shutdown of New York rock venue CBGB, where Blondie first launched. "It's just about the damn real estate in New York, isn't it?," he said. "Whoever moves in there is going to be paying $60,000 a month. I asked [club owner] Hilly [Kristal] if I could have a piece of the bar but he told me he's taking it with him."
In an amusing aside, drummer Clem Burke suggested Kristal belongs in the Rock Hall, to which Stein replied, "What's the category, old beatnik?" As previously reported, Blondie begins a summer tour with the New Cars in May.
After leading a crack band through a three-song Miles Davis tribute, Herbie Hancock discussed working with the jazz legend, who died in 1990. "Miles had this special gift that one might associate with the idea of a master teacher," he said. "He was the kind of person that never gave you the answers, but he would respond to a question in a way that would set you off, searching for an answer. You'd have to find it yourself."
Hancock said Davis would have appreciated the evening's honor, but that the true rewards for him were the possibilities of live performance. "I think personally he would have enjoyed it," he said. "He would be here. He probably is here. [But] I don't think these events were important to him. The event was walking on the stage."
The artist is in the planning stages for separate tours in the summer and fall. "We've been discussing ideas for what to do for my next jazz record," he said. "Tour-wise, there'll be something in the fall that springboards from [the 2005 album] 'Possibilities.'"
Miles Davis' family members attempted to set the record straight about the artist's infamous temperament. "He wasn't mean and angry," his daughter Cheryl said. "He was very humorous. He lived life to the fullest. He absorbed cultures from all over the world. That's why his music was different."
Asked if the Rock Hall induction for Davis was overdue, Cheryl acknowledged, "It seems overdue, but we end up waiting a long time for a lot of things to happen. [Like] notoriety, because in jazz music, he was the most innovative jazz musician that there was. He always brought about change and change is inevitable even though people don't want to see it, don't want to hear it."
As previously reported, the Davis family is in talks with actor Don Cheadle and director Antoine Fuqua about a biographical film on the artist, but a script has yet to be approved.
Reflecting on his many successes with partner Herb Alpert at A&M Records, Jerry Moss was asked about Peter Frampton's meteoric rise to fame in the wake of 1976's "Frampton Comes Alive" and his inability to ever duplicate its success thereafter.
"Peter's here tonight. It's so great to see him," Moss said. "He had a lot of courage when he left Humble Pie. That band was happening. He left and we stuck with him. I guess it was sort of my idea to do a live album. Peter was very adept in the studio as well. He could have been any kind of producer. I think the year  pretty much exhausted Peter. He worked so hard and did so many things. He never took any time off and I think it took its toll. I don't know if I could have said anything or done anything. This is the way it is. People were hungry for him and he answered the call."